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I don’t think our September is going to arrive crisp and golden, but we can always hope. If nothing else, the arrival of September is a reminder that fall is on its way . . . eventually.

This little owl, with all his brown and gold, reminds me a bit of September. The green is fading, but the fall colors haven’t quite arrived. We’re in that last-gasp-of-summer, the-grass-is-all-dead, brown spell. At least here in the South.

I met this owl while visiting Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee a few years ago with my parents and my kids. Reelfoot was formed after the New Madrid (that’s pronounced mad-rid, not muh-drid) earthquakes of 1811-1812. The earthquakes were the most powerful to strike east of the Mississippi in recorded U.S. history. They were so intense, they briefly reversed the course of the Mississippi River and formed a shallow new lake.

Today, Reelfoot is known as a good place to kayak and to see bald eagles in the wild. We weren’t kayaking, though, just taking a stroll along the wooden boardwalk through the bald cypress trees. Much of Reelfoot resembles a Louisiana swamp rather than a Tennessee lake. Near the boardwalk was a visitor’s center, and outside the center were several wooden boxes holding birds of prey. They were all in various states of rehabilitation, awaiting their return to the wild.

This owl studied me very closely, then clicked its beak at me several times. I tried to get it on video, but by then it was tired of the game and turned its head 180 degrees to dismiss me. I was fascinated—I’d never seen an owl this close before, and certainly never heard one click its beak. Just like Hedwig did in the Harry Potter books.

In case you were wondering, I believe it was a barred owl,
but don’t quote me on that. The photo was made with a
Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 24-70 2.8L USM lens.


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